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Full text of "Byzantine Churches In Constantinople"

ii         THE CHURCH OF S. JOHN OF THE STUDION       41
Speaking of Eastern monks and abbots, especially during the eighth and ninth centuries, Mr. Finlay, the historian3 justly remarks that cthe manners, the extensive charity, and the pure morality of these abbots, secured them the love and admiration of the people, and tended to disseminate a higher standard of morality than had previously prevailed in Constantinople. This fact must not be overlooked in estimating the various causes which led to the regeneration of the Eastern Empire under the iconoclast emperors. While the Pope winked at the disorders in the palace of Charlemagne, the monks of the East prepared the public mind for the dethronement of Constantine VI. because he obtained an illegal divorce and formed a second marriage. The corruption of monks and the irregularities prevalent in the monasteries of the West contrast strongly with the condition of the Eastern monks/ Certainly to no one is this tribute of praise due more than to the brotherhood in the monastery of Studius.
The monks of the Studion, like most Greek monks, lived under the rules prescribed by S. Basil for the discipline of men who aspired to reach c the angelic life.' Theodore, however, quickened the spirit which found expression in those rules, and while inculcating asceticism in its extremest form, showed greater consideration for the weakness of human nature. The penalties he assigned for transgressions were on the whole less Draconian than those inflicted before his time.
According to the moral ideal cherished in the monastery, the true life of man was to regard oneself but dust and ashes, and, like the angels, to be ever giving God thanks. If a monk repined at such a lot, he was to castigate himself by eating only dry bread for a week and performing 500 acts of penance. The prospect of death was always to be held in view. Often did the corridors of the monastery resound with the cry, c We shall die, we shall die !' The valley of the shadow of death was considered the road to life eternal. A monk could not call even a needle his own. Nor were the clothes he wore his personal property. They were from time to time thrown into a heap with the clothes of the other members of the House, and every monk then